Anti-Aging Retinoids : Pros and Cons

Retinoids have long been a popular ingredient of anti-aging formulas.

But as with everything there are two sides to the retinoid coin.


According to Dr. Leslie Baumann, a Miami dermatologist, "[retinoids] are are prescription drugs. For FDA approval, drug companies have to do scientific studies that absolutely prove retinoids get rid of wrinkles. It is the only thing on the market that has such concrete evidence."

Dermatologists disagree with the idea that retinoids make the skin thinner.

According to New York dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger, retinoids in fact make the skin thicker by increasing the thickness of the dermis – the deep layer of the skin where wrinkles form.

The idea that skin gets thinner when you use retinoid may have come from the peeling or flaking of the skin when you are still developing a tolerance to it, explains Schweiger. Since you have to build a tolerance to retinoids over several weeks before you can use them daily, applying it too much or too often can create the impression that your skin is getting thinner.

Dr. Tina Alster, a Washington D.C. dermatologist, agrees that skin inflammation breaks down collaged which results in lines and and sagging. "But it’s only a problem if people are chronically rip-roaring red and itchy," says Alster. "If you’re on retinoids for a long time and you don’t have that intolerable inflammation, you’re not destroying your skin. You’re helping it."


Other skin experts have a different opinion about retinoid. New York facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Yagoda says, "The key is looking at the retinol studies and under standing how much collagen can really be built. It doesn’t matter if it gives you 10 percent less of a wrinkle-that’s so microscopic, our eyes can’t distinguish it."

Yagoda adds that since retinoids are so easy to prescribe, patients are rarely offered an alternative. She shares that in her practice, glycolic acids are just as effective as retinoids and better-tolerated.

But while most experts agree that retinoids produce immediate results, many say that they might not be worth it. According to Simon Erani, lead researcher for skincare company Somme Institute, "Sure, your discolorations and lines might be getting a little better,but you’re not noticing how your skin looks papery and thin." Erani believes that inflammation – which can be detected in his subsurface skin photos of people who have been using retinoid for at least eight weeks – will damage skin eventually. Susan Ciminelli, a New York City aesthetician, says, she can easily tell which patients are retinoid users: "Their skin looks brittle because it has lost its cushion." Ciminelli thinks that retinoid strips the skin, whereas adding natural moisture and emollients is the key to having youthful skin.

Bottom line, both camps agree that inflammation damages the skin and speeds up aging. If you want to have a youthful glow, avoid excessive inflammation.  Use a milder formula to get younger looking skin and not make worse.

Source: Marie Claire

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